Two programs heading in opposite directions are set to face off in Miami Gardens on Saturday night.
Clemson, winners of two straight in ACC play, head down to Miami to face a Hurricanes team coming off consecutive defeats in the conference.
“Clemson, obviously an excellent football team,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said. “Stacked with talent, very well coached, championship caliber program for a while now and looking forward to this opportunity coming up on Saturday.”
After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Florida State, the Tigers rebounded to beat Syracuse on the road and Wake Forest at home. However, after starting the season at 4-0, Miami suffered a devastating setback at home against Georgia Tech, before losing on the road last week at North Carolina.
According to Cristobal, one of the keys for his team this week will be doing whatever it takes to not let the two-game losing streak snowball into something more.
“You do it with leadership at all levels. You do it at the coaching level, you do it with the best leaders on your team, you do it with honesty, you do it with transparency,” Cristobal said. “I think if you ever deviate from that, that is when you create issues. I think what’s very clear to us is yeah, we’ve made a lot of progress as a team. Offensively and defensively, the improvement statistically is staggering. It’s really, really good but we’ve made some really good plays in some critical moments and we’ve hurt ourselves in some critical moments. And that’s at all levels, because we take everything as players and as coaches, and that is very tangible. That’s something that you could see on film. That’s something that you feel obviously when things are good and when you feel the consequences. So, I think whenever it’s real, then moving forward is something that is, it’s never easy, but the challenge and the approach to it is very real.”
The Hurricanes have committed nine turnovers in the two losses, something Cristobal knows will need to improve if his team is to have any shot at snapping a four-game losing streak against the Tigers. Clemson has outscored Miami 178-20 during that winning streak, including a 40-10 win at Death Valley last season.
After allowing 235 rushing yards to the Tar Heels last week, Cristobal also knows his team will have to find a way to be better against the run, which means slowing down Will Shipley and Phil Mafah.
“Fast, powerful, right? Guys are bullies, right,” Cristobal said. “They do a great job. They do a great job up front, their tight ends. Schematically, they present a lot of eyewash, a lot of challenges but they’re physical, Physical football team. Those are a lot of stacked classes of high caliber talent coming together and they do a really, really good job. They’re a couple plays away from being 6-0. So, they present a lot of challenges, and again, we were looking forward to being at our best on Saturday.”
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